You cannot make vitamins so you have to get them from food.
This is important - food is the only source of real vitamins, while most vitamin supplements are not.
There are literally hundreds of thousands of biological actions going on in your body at any given time and all of them need vitamins.
They keep you healthy and strong.
Without vitamins you would not be able to live.
Practically all the vitamins were discovered when people became sick because they did not eat the right kind of food.
Beriberi is a disease that was epidemic among the Dutch colonists who lived on the island of Java in the 17th century.
It affects the heart and cardiovascular system, the brain and the nervous system, stomach, and muscles.
In severe cases it causes death.
Literally thousands of men, women, and children died from beriberi.
Dutch colonists liked to eat white polished rice because it looked nice, it was fluffy and easy to chew.
The problem is that most of the important nutrients in rice are found in the bran (the tough outer part) and the germ (the part from which new rice plant can grow), not in the white part.
The white part contains practically no B vitamins, especially vitamin B1, and this is what caused the epidemic of beriberi.
Scurvy is a disease that killed literally tens of thousands of British sailors.
It causes problems with collagen production, which leads to bleeding, gum disease and loose teeth, lack of energy, aches and pains, and eventually death.
In 1747 James Lind (a naval surgeon) discovered that an unknown substance in citrus foods could prevent scurvy.
This unknown substance was vitamin C.
Ancient Egyptians knew that liver could cure night blindness (inability to see in dim light).
Today we know that liver is a good source of vitamin A, which is important for normal vision and many other things.
There are many other examples, but you get the point.
Foods provide real vitamins and if you eat the right foods you will be healthy.
Most people think of a vitamin as a single element (this includes most doctors and nutritionists).
But this is not true at all.
A vitamin is a complex of dozens or hundreds of different substances.
For example, most people think that vitamin C is ascorbic acid.
But that is wrong.
Vitamin C contains ascorbic acid, ascorbigen, an enzyme called tyrosinase, copper, many other trace minerals, J factor, P factor, dozens of bioflavonoids, and other ingredients.
When you eat an orange, strawberry, or kiwi you get all of these ingredients.
When you take a capsule of ascorbic acid, you get only ascorbic acid and nothing else.
The government has changed the way we look at vitamins in the 1940s.
They have issued a set of rules that called for each vitamin to be recognized by its "main" component.
So vitamin C became ascorbic acid, vitamin E became d-alpha-tocopherol, vitamin B1 became thiamine, and so on.
It is sort of like calling an automobile a "steering wheel" and calling an airplane a "cockpit", etc.
That doesn't make much sense, does it? But that is what happened in the world of nutrition, primarily for the benefit of drug companies.
It is very easy for a drug company to make synthetic ascorbic acid and call it "vitamin C.
" It is just as easy to make d-alpha tocopherol and call it "vitamin E.
" It is technically uncomplicated, the raw material is plentiful and cheap (petroleum or corn syrup), which makes the end product extremely profitable.
In fact, there is very little difference between making a synthetic drug and a synthetic vitamin.
Both are chemicals, often produced from the same raw materials.
Drug companies have been doing it for decades.
The most important thing for you to understand is that all real vitamins are complexes made up of dozens (sometimes hundreds) of different ingredients that work together to make you healthier.
All these components have to be present for a vitamin to do its job, just like all the watch parts have to be present so you can tell what time it is.
These combinations (the real vitamins) can only be found in foods and cannot bemade in a laboratory.
A synthetic "vitamin" is not really a vitamin.
It is a man-made substance that does not have (cannot have) the same effect as the real thing.
If you want a supplement that provide real vitamins, look for a product that was made from food.
Food-based supplements have ingredients that sound like food - carrot, nutritional yeast, wheat germ, etc.
- the things you can eat.
They are made by dehydrating the food (removing water), which preserves all the vital compounds that are naturally present in the food.
To learn more about vitamins, minerals, and proper nutrition, see Nutrition and Your Health (use the link below).